To us, the night sky may look like a random splattering of stars, but astronomers are learning that in some regions of our galaxy, stars have clumped into features that resemble ones on Earth — streams, waves, arches and mountain ridges.

Tectonic activity creates Earth’s wide array of features, but scientists aren’t exactly sure what’s making those stellar mimics in the Milky Way. Now, researchers are testing for a culprit, including forces coming from outside of our galaxy. The real suspect, though, might just be the Milky Way itself.

Related: 11 Fascinating Facts About Our Milky Way Galaxy

Scientists describe the Milky Way as a barred, spiral galaxy — essentially shaped like a sunny-side-up egg, with a pinwheel distribution of stars. But on a smaller scale, there’s a lot more detail hiding in this galactic topography.

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